SHADY COVE, Ore. (KTVZ) – A Bend man was jailed on kidnapping, car theft and other charges Friday after he allegedly stole a running car at a southern Oregon gas station with a 1-year-old child inside, then dragged the mother hanging onto the door as she fought and pleaded with him to stop.
Jackson County sheriff’s deputies responded around 10:45 a.m. to the reported carjacking and attempted kidnapping at the Shady Cove Chevron gas station.
Deputies said the suspect, Jason Lee Cheatham, 33, of Bend, stole the woman’s running vehicle parked with her 1-year-old child inside. A few feet away, the mother witnessed what was happening and ran to the car, opened the driver’s door and pleaded with the driver to stop so she could get her child out, they said.
Knowing the infant was in the car, deputies said Cheatham still tried to leave with the mother hanging onto the outside of the door. Deputies said the mother fought with Cheatham and was able to get him to stop in the middle of Highway 62.
Cheatham ran from the scene and deputies and a K-9 team began tracking him. He was found hiding under a tarp along Highway 62 and arrested.
Cheatham is charged with car theft, two counts of second-degree kidnapping, two counts of recklessly endangering, first-degree robbery, second-degree disorderly conduct and harassment, deputies said. Because he was held on several Measure 11 felony charges, he is not eligible for pre-trial release.
Later, sheriff’s deputies posted a follow-up on the press release on Facebook, chastising commenters for “a lot of victim blaming in the comments, which is never a good look.”
“The blame here should be solely placed on the suspect,” they said. “The mom fought courageously and foiled an attempted carjacking/kidnapping. A scary situation that shows the strength and determination of a mom when her child is in danger.”
“The lesson to be learned here is no matter how close you are to your car, it could be dangerous to leave your child unattended,” the sheriff’s office said. “Please show compassion to this mother that learned this the hard way, and make sure your friends and family with children are aware of the dangers.”